Getting back in control of her finances has helped mum -of-two Gemma Jordan clear £17,000 worth of debt in just 11 months.
The 40-year-old telecoms team manager, who lives in Shrewsbury with son Enzo, 11, and daughter Mila, 8, knew she had to overhaul her spending after splitting with her partner in December 2020.
It was this turning point in her life that inspired her to download the free money management app Snoop, which analyses your finances through open banking.
Snoop then uses a mix of artificial and human intelligence to help you make the most of your cash by giving personalised recommendations.
“I obviously needed to take stock of where I was in my life, sort out what I could afford – or not afford – to do,” she said.
“I’d accumulated quite a lot of debt over time, just on basic things like running the household, cars and buying new things. It was pretty much credit cards and loans.
“I’d been using an Excel spreadsheet for years to note down what I owed and how much I was paying each month.
“But that relied on me having to update that information and sometimes I didn’t keep it up.”
One of the first things Gemma spotted through Snoop was how she had become a “little bit addicted” to Amazon and spent “hundreds of pounds” every month ordering stuff online.
To rectify this, she didn’t buy anything off Amazon at all for the first six months of this year and put the money she would’ve normally spent towards her debts.
Snoop also flagged to Gemma exactly how much she was forking out on food shops each month – and she soon realised she was spending “a ridiculous” amount on stuff she didn’t need.
Despite already shopping in Aldi, the mum-of-two would find herself getting carried away in the famous Middle Aisle.
“Obviously I wasn’t spending £17,000 just on Amazon, but I was just fritting money away because it is far too easy to overspend online,” admitted Gemma.
“Not on anything in particular but I’d see something random on TikTok and then think I’d order that.
“It was also my food shop. I could look at my food shop category on Snoop and see we were spending a ridiculous amount when we didn’t need to.”
Snoop also flagged to Gemma that she was paying high interest rates on her credit cards and loans, and the app suggested swapping them over to cheaper deals.
By moving some credit cards over to 0% interest rates and her loan from a 9.9% interest rate to 2.8% she estimates she saved around £6,000 to £7,000.
For her credit cards, Gemma took advantage of balance transfer deals.
This is where you move over your debt from one card to another and pay 0% interest for a set amount of time – meaning you’re not paying more money on top of what you already owe.
The idea of these cards is you don’t spend on them – instead, you work out how much you need to pay each month to become debt-free so your balance is cleared in that promotional period.
” This is probably where I saved the most money,” said Gemma.
“I had credit cards and loans with a high interest rate because I’d taken them out ages ago.
“I was getting messages from Snoop saying you could get a better deal.”
Gemma was also reminded by Snoop to compare prices for her car, home and pet insurance – something she may have forgotten to do unless prompted.
Of course, lockdown also made it easier for Gemma to save money, as restrictions meant restaurants and shops were closed for months on end and she wasn’t really spending cash.
She estimates she put between £2,000 to £3,000 of savings she already had aside from her relationship breakdown on slashing down her debts.
Gemma still has around £28,000 of debt to pay off but is confident she now has the tools and knowledge to set her on the path of becoming completely debt-free.
“My bills had gone down anyway after the split, so that decrease had spurred me on not to go back to spending a ridiculous amount,” she said.
“Lockdown did help as well, as we weren’t able to do as much as we normally would.
“But primarily just knowing where my money was going and having that insight thanks to Snoop really helped.
“The one thing I loved about Snoop was it worked with all my accounts and I could have all my payments in one place. Nothing was excluded from it.
“It did take a bit of time to put all my regular payments in and categorise them, but it has been so worth the effort.
“I can see when my credit card promotional balance will end, when my car insurance is due, things you may not always remember.
“I can also budget better now because I know when I’ve got payments coming up.”